I hope you all had as wonderful a Thanksgiving Holiday as I did. Mine was spent on duty but like many of you, I have so much to be thankful for that it really doesn’t matter where I’m at … I’m happy and thankful.

Family, crew, friends, health,  career etc … I am truly BLESSED and I thank each of you for being part of my life!

So, with Thanksgiving behind us, I hope you all got the chance to see my “Top Ten Stocking Stuffers“. Even if I have to say so myself, I think the list offers a lot of variety at some very affordable prices. Several of the items I choose came from (and / or were once offered on) Rhett and Jeff’s Daily 911 Deals  website. Holiday season or not, this site should be a regular stop for you … they offer some great “deals” on the industries top products. Fire, EMS or Police, Rhett and Jeff Harkey have something for everyone.

My postings have been so few and far between that I have so much catching up to do and I’m not sure where to start.  I’ve been busy both on the job and on the farm…. not to mention all the traveling Rhett and I have done here lately. I mention the farm work only because several of you seem to either relate to or enjoy reading about working a farm on your days off. The Buckaroo (my Grandson)  is also a big hit in my postings so, to tie them both in;  here’s a quick video of the little fella feeding the cows earlier this week ….

Yea … for just 3 years old, he’s growing FAST. We were framing a  new barn this past weekend and I had him up on the rafters with us. All the girls had a fit !!! They couldn’t figure out why I’d  have him up there. I told them it was because all the saws etc were down on the ground and that if I left him down there alone, he’d figure it was his job to make all the cuts! LMAO … they thought I was kidding but he was honestly safer on the roof with us than he was on the ground!

Photo by Nancy Pierce for Charlotte Magazine

So, on to Fire Department stuff …. I received an interesting e-mail this week. It was from a fellow who said he helped produce and article and video of Charlotte’s busiest Fire Station … Engine Company #15 .. The Shamrock Express! He wanted to know if I could / would help promote the article … he included the link.

I read and watched with mixed emotion … I wasn’t sure where to go from there. I hesitate to post this so allow me to explain why.

I know and have personally spoken to members of Charlotte’s Engine Co. #15. A few of them are regular readers / followers of and often even take the time to post comments. Rhett and I have been invited into their station MANY times (although opportunity hasn’t allowed us to make the stop yet) . They seem to be VERY squared away and I’m proud to not only know them but to call them friends and BROTHERS. That said, this article / video (in my opinion) didn’t cast a very good light on the men of The Shamrock Express.

I think I know what happened but maybe you should read the article and see the video before I get into all of it ….


Charlotte Magazine article and video featuring Charlotte’s Station #15 The Shamrock Express

What were your thoughts? Again, mine were mixed. As I said, I know the men of Station #15 (some personally, others by profession). They’re good firemen … the best of the best in Charlotte. I have family  in the Charlotte area and I can tell ya that if they had to call 911, I’d want 15 on the run.

That said, I didn’t feel that this article and video showed who these men are … the kind of firemen they are. The article quotes a member as saying “nice” when he hears a report of heavy smoke showing over the radio. “Nice” as if he was excited or happy that someone’s house was burning.

The reporter further states that “most of the time, the crew waits” and describes their furnishings as  ” plush recliners” forming “an amphitheater of upholstery facing the big-screen TV”.  A portion of the video captures the Brothers at rest in those recliners, playing xX-Box and then eating some well marinated steaks for dinner.

For the busiest company in Charlotte, these Brothers HAVE IT MADE!

That’s the problem with videos and articles such as this …. they don’t show or tell the entire story. They also take things out of context. You can’t show up and ride with an Engine Company and understand firefighters…. it takes a hell of a lot more than a few hours to understand who we are and what we do.

Do firemen want your home to burn?? NO . Have I heard ” I hope we catch something good today” inside a station.. YES. I’ve said it myself years ago. A “crusty old Jake” broke me of that. One day, he said …” yea.. I hope we catch a good one too” … “ballooned out, fire from every window … a real cooker and oh yea …I hope it’s your place”.  My place???   WTF ??   What are you talking about? Then he told me … if you really want someone’s house to burn, it may as well be yours. At least then, you’ll have us to take care of you and your girls. The average person may not have that luxury.

I had never thought of it that way. I had seen the devastation fire brings to a family … why would I wish that on anyone?

Later, as I matured in life and my profession, I began to understand those feelings. I didn’t want anyone’s home to burn or anyone to become hurt or injured BUT,  if there was a fire, someone hurt, sick or  trapped in a vehicle anywhere in the city while I was on duty, I WANTED TO BE THERE.

I don’t know if it’s age, experience or whatever but I do know it’s all about PRIDE. Back then, we had pride in showing everyone what a great job we could do. In those days, we were labeled as “hot dogs” and “cowboys”. Today, I have just as much pride in knowing that I’m ready and capable of handling any situation that may arise. Busiest company or slowest …. doesn’t matter. A company can run 20 calls a day and do nothing. On the other hand, a slower company may only run a single incident that same day but that one call may mean the difference between life and death.

To get back in line here, I think the Charlotte article misrepresented Brother Martin. He didn’t want to see someone’s home burn. He did want to show this reporter the work his company is capable of. PRIDE.

The recliners and X-Box … I can’t defend. What’s not shown is the time of day or how long they were there. No mention of how many runs on the tour.  After 6pm and  a full days work, training etc. if the boys want to relax, watch tv, play a video game or whatever … yea… they’ve earned it. What I didn’t like in the video is that they didn’t show station cleaning, company training etc. Most of our days are full well beyond running calls ( they did show the men working out). I think the reporter should have rode when they had on duty training, 2 physicals, a Captain’s meeting, a public relations event and hydrant maintenance to conduct.

Don’t forget about shopping, cooking and cleaning. YEA… we do all that too! There was a comment about the Brothers eating steak. Firemen eating steak in these hard economic times. Well, steaks are eaten at the firehouse. More often than not, it’s due to a special occasion …promotions, birthdays, transfers etc … or, like a reporter (special guest) being in the house. Again, what they didn’t show was the reporters plate. I’ll bet you that the only reason these guys bought steaks was because the reporter was in house. I’ll also bet that they bought him one and didn’t charge him ( I’ll also bet he didn’t offer to chip in).

Why didn’t they talk about the firemen buying and cooking the meals? We have that problem here in “The Noke”. Our citizens actually think that the City buys our food. YEA … they don’t understand that what we eat comes out of our pockets and that we don’t receive a “stipend” or anything for meals. When they see us at the local grocery store with a basket full of food, they are thinking it’s their tax dollars that are going to pay for it.

We have a Chief who will call and chew a Captain’s butt because multiple pieces of apparatus were at the same store. He gets a call from a  “concerned citizen” … Why were there 3 fire trucks at Krogers?  It amazes me still that this Chief can’t think enough to educate our customers. Why not explain to them … the firemen shop for their meals. They buy their own food, split the cost among the members and cook for themselves. Companies within the city keep a similar schedule so the window for shopping / cooking is small and they often end up at the store around the same time of day. We remain in service while shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. so service delivery is not affected … we simply drop everything and respond.

Usually, I don’t engage in “Monday Morning Quarterbacking”  because I understand how photos etc can be misleading. But, there was a shot in the video where the members appeared to be on scene of an auto accident and the Brother spreading absorbent was in his duty uniform. I’ll just briefly comment there and say …come on Brother… there’s a camera on the rig! Put on your coat, helmet and safety vest.

My point in all of this is that the Department / Company should have had more say in what was published. Maybe, I’m 100% off base here and the men of The Shamrock Express are proud of how they were portrayed. I know the members of that house are better than what most of you will take away from the article / video. With that said, what will the public come away with?

I think the producers of the documentary  “BURN”  got it right! If you haven’t heard of this film yet … pay attention.

 “Every shift, Detroit firefighters face injury, disablement, illness, death. But still they come back, day after day, resolved they can make a difference. And they do it with camaraderie and a remarkable sense of humor.  We have embedded with firefighters of the DFD and are following the Detroit story through their eyes. Our film explores human struggles, hope and personal courage in the face of overwhelming odds.”

Watch this video …..

This is how America’s Firefighters should be portrayed!

This project has been in desperate need of funding. They have now reached (and actually exceeded) their goal. Donations will not only help get this important story out to mass audiences but a portion of the proceeds will also go to the Leary Foundation to get much needed gear into the hands of Detroit firefighters. Deadline for donations is tomorrow ( December 1, 2011) so don’t hesitate to give and become a part of something special to our profession.

Find more details from the Fire Critic by clicking  HERE .

ALSO visit the Official website HERE

Detroit is not unlike many cities across this Country. There are hundreds of “mini” Detroits out there … who will be the next? I’m rambling here so I’m gonna cut it short. The Buckaroo and I have to haul a load of horses to Maryland tomorrow and then I’m back to duty on Thursday.

I’ll check back in then but mean while, let me know what you think of the Charlotte video and don’t forget to help out our Brothers in Detroit.

Until I get back, stay Safe and in House!

Captain Wines